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Will Congress’s cast of Rahul dice prove wise?

Tuesday, 22 January 2013 - 5:27pm IST | Agency: DNA
Is this Congress’ last-ditch attempt to resurrect a party plagued by graft charges to boost its ballot count in 2014 elections?

Scion of the Gandhi family was recently given the second highest position of vice-president in the oldest political party of India.

Is this Congress’ last-ditch attempt to resurrect a party plagued by graft charges to boost its ballot count in 2014 elections? DNA finds out

Rahul is no youth icon at 42 years, and lacks his father’s charisma
There will only be a negative impact on the Congress’ prospects in the 2014 elections. Elevating Rahul Gandhi will strengthen the perception that only the family matters in the party. This will alienate the people. Also, it is questionable whether Rahul Gandhi is a youth icon at all, as he is 42 himself, and the youth do not look up to him. He has never spoken on youth issues, and does not have the charisma his father Rajiv Gandhi did. Moreover, the youth do not vote only on the basis of young candidates. They vote on issues that matter. The mis-governance, corruption and other setbacks of the government mean there is a lot of anti-government sentiment among the common people. Just elevating Rahul Gandhi will not make a difference.
Ashwath Komath, political science student

Rahul understands the need for reforms, and has a futuristic vision
Rahul Gandhi becoming Congress vice-president will certainly boost the party’s prospects in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He is also the head of the steering committee, and will play a major role in choosing good candidates. His elevation will boost the morale of the party workers for the elections. Youth voters, in particular, will definitely be attracted to him. Rahul Gandhi is a charismatic leader, and understands the need for reforms. He feels that technology has to be used to benefit common people. He has a futuristic vision and will bring new ideas to the party. Under his leadership, the Congress will win a majority of seats on their own. Rahul has been working for the party non-stop and has leadership capabilities.
Abhay Chajjed, city unit Congress president

Competition for the PM’s post is between Rahul Gandhi and Modi
At the Congress meet Rahul Gandhi spoke about the party philosophy and its commitment, stating that he would serve and support any Indian irrespective of caste, creed or religion. From this it seems that Rahul has imbibed that Congress is the only mass party. Rahul also expressed his plans for the party as an organisation and the need to create a working system. This obviously suggests he wants to ensure there is no rift amongst Congress members. Performance-wise, Rahul is way ahead of other young leaders of today. Even Sharad Pawar has cynically stated that a coronation ceremony has happened. The competition for prime minister’s post will now remain between Rahul and Narendra Modi, and with Modi’s hands soaked in the blood spilled after Godhra riots, people may forgive yet never forget his misdeeds.
Kumar Saptrishi, founder, Yuvak Kranti Dal

Elevating Rahul is pointless, as he was anyway the de facto No 2
Rahul Gandhi’s last successful campaign was for UP Lok Sabha elections in 2009, where the Congress won 22 of 80 seats. Since then, none of his campaigns have been successful. Besides, the Congress is now completing two terms, and bound to face the anti-incumbency factor. The rising fiscal deficit, the recent Delhi gang-rape, and their poor governance will prove serious hurdles. His elevation to the vice-president’s post is pointless, as he was anyway the de facto number 2 in the party. Rahul has not held any official position, and hence has no administrative experience. The recent Delhi gang-rape was a golden chance for him to reach out to the youth, which he missed out on sorely. Since the opposition parties are in complete disarray, it is possible if he works hard that he may still pull off a surprise.
Vinod Subramaniam, UPSC aspirant

His absence in recent crises has not projected him as a national leader
Congress has always projected Rahul as their future leader. Now he has been designated as the vice-president officially keeping an eye on the 2014 elections. Though the Rahul magic has not worked in the recent UP and Gujarat Assembly elections, his elevation may boost the morale of the young in the Congress brigade. However, whether this will appeal to voters is the question. Does he have the magic wand to whitewash all the black deeds that have been exposed during last two terms of UPA? Only populist demands such as giving more space to young leaders will not help the party. Also, his absence in several recent crises has not projected him as a dynamic national leader. This move will certainly benefit the party only if he proves that he is not just another Gandhi, who has got the position due to his lineage.
Vidyabhushan Arya, faculty of political science,
MIT school of government

Voters may not be interested in the Gandhi family, unless Rahul performs
As far as the Congress is concerned, it will make a difference, as he belongs to the Gandhi family. However, for the party, it’s a huge question whether he will make a difference. Today, the electorate know very well whom to vote and not vote. If Rahul is able to convince the public of the Congress party’s assurance of good governance, when they are back in power, the party could gain public faith. However, it may be an uphill task. Voters may not be interested in the Gandhi family, unless Rahul performs. If his past performance had been remarkable, he would not have maintained silence on the various allegations of scams, corruption charges and on the recent Delhi gang-rape case, which moved the nation, even when many party members were seen giving irresponsible statements.
Sita Bhatia, associate professor & HOD,
department of political science, ILS College


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